Practice and Industry Groups

Fred W. Suggs

Of Counsel Greenville

Fred Suggs is a certified specialist in labor and employment law by the South Carolina Supreme Court.  He is a founding lawyer of Ogletree Deakins, having been with the firm since its inception.  Mr. Suggs helps companies avoid work-related legal exposure by giving preventive advice and providing training for managers at client locations.  Mr. Suggs speaks regularly at employment law conferences, Bar Programs for other lawyers, Association of Corporate Council Meetings, SHRM Conferences for Human Resources Professionals, and at workshops and seminars sponsored by the firm.

Mr. Suggs has wide experience in labor and employment law.  He began defending across-the-board class actions in 1976, and has since handled a number of class complaints alleging discrimination based on race, color, sex, and age.  Mr. Suggs has defended countless individual claims of discrimination before government agencies and state and federal courts.  He has also litigated claims arising under restrictive covenants, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the FMLA, and common law torts and contracts.

Mr. Suggs’ experience in union campaigns began with the ACTWU’s assault on J.P. Stevens in the late 1970s.  He has advised many companies on the rights and responsibilities of management during card signing activity, and after petitions for elections have been filed.

Mr. Suggs has served the South Carolina Bar in many positions, including President, from 2009 to 2010.  He has been Chairman of the Labor and Employment Section, Chairman of the Professional Responsibility Committee, and Chairman of the House of Delegates. Mr. Suggs currently chairs the Bar's Pro Bono Committee.

Mr. Suggs has served his community by Chairing the Board of the Metropolitan YMCA, being General Counsel of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and Counsel to the Staff Parish Relations Committee at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church.


Experience

Mr. Suggs helps companies avoid work-related legal exposure by giving preventive advice in his office, and by telephone, e-mail, and written correspondence, as well as on the Company’s premises.  He regularly provides training for clients at their facilities.  The training centers on the employer’s rights and responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act, and the discrimination laws, including Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Mr. Suggs has defended claims of class-wide discrimination. Examples include:

  • Race and Sex Discrimination class claims against a single factory of a textile company;
  • Race, Sex, and Age Discrimination class claims against several plants of an automotive Tier 1 supplier; and
  • Race Discrimination class claims against an apparel maker and distributor.

Mr. Suggs has defended countless individual employment claims in both state and federal courts.  Although Mr. Suggs’ objective is to obtain summary judgment for the employer based on pre-trial discovery and motions, some of these matters have been settled (many favorably), and some have been tried to a verdict.  Of those tried to a verdict or disposed of on summary judgment, there have been a number of appeals to various courts of appeal and state supreme courts.

Mr. Suggs has had campaigns with fewer than ten employees in the Upper Midwest and with several thousand employees for a large manufacturer in the Lower Midwest.  He has handled elections in the boroughs of New York City and in small rural communities.  Mr. Suggs has experience in presenting Representation cases at the regional level and defending unfair labor practice cases before administrative law judges, the NLRB, and the Courts of Appeal.

Mr. Suggs’ office work includes preparing employment contracts, including restrictive covenants, reviewing employee handbooks for legal sufficiency, and preparing collective bargaining proposals.

Mr. Suggs works with clients in a number of industries, including apparel, automotive, banking, chemicals, communications, construction, education, finance, food service, grocery, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, retail, sales, technology, textiles, and transportation.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (Since 2000)
  • Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law by the SC Supreme Court (8/18/1987)
  • Judicial Conference, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit – Permanent Member
  • South Carolina Bar (President, 2009-2010; State Bar ABA Delegate, 2014-2017; Board of Governors, 2001-2011; Chairman of House of Delegates, 2004-2006; Chairman of the Labor and Employment Section, 1996-1998; Chairman of the Professional Responsibility Committee, 1995-1996; Chairman Pro Bono Committee, 2016-)
  • Alabama Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Florida Bar Association
  • SHRM
  • GSHRM
  • Greenville Chamber of Commerce (Member Manufacturer’s Council)
  • Donaldson Commission (1988 to 2001)
  • Leadership Greenville (Class Eleven (11))
  • Diversity Leadership Academy (Class Two (2))

Speeches:

  • 2014 Human Resources Law Update - ''2013 In Review'' - Greenville - February 25, 2014
  • NC/SC Labor & Employment Law Conference - ''National Labor Relations Board Update'' - Charleston - October 24 - October 26, 2013
  • NLRB Region Eleven and ABA Committee on NLRA Practice and Procedure - ''The Management Perspective'' - Winston-Salem - November 19, 2010
  • Oconee Development Commission - ''NLRA'' - Anderson - October 2010
  • Association of Corporate Counsel/SC Chapter - ''The Employee Free Choice Act, Ethical Issues in Employment Law'' - Columbia - 2010
  • Wake Forest University School of Law - ''Concerted Activity'' - Winston-Salem - 2008
  • Furman University - ''NLRA Rights'' - Greenville - 2006
  • Certificate in Employee Relations Law Series - ''Rights and Responsibilities Under the NLRA, Overview of Discrimination Laws'' - Greenville - 2002 - 2013
  • Sterling Education Services - ''Recent Changes in Employment Law'' - Greenville - 2002
  • Human Resources Law Update - ''The Year In Review'' - Greenville - 1997 - 2013

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